Category: Life and Living

Friday Feeling [28] – gone but not forgotten

It’s easy to assume that little people get over loss sooner than grown ups, because their minds are still developing and constantly being filled with new information.

Not so for this little girl, who’s been using her Dad’s old mobile phone to send text messages to her Grandad “in heaven” – even though he died 5 years ago.

Text messages to Grandad

Adorable!

You can read the full story , including the Twitter reactions, here.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Who am I, really?

This isn’t a confession post, where I tell you that Ive been blogging under an alias or anything! But it may strike a chord with anyone who’s been on any hormone based contraception or anti depressants for any length of time.

I’ve been thinking recently, for a while actually, that I’ve been on “potentially mood altering” prescribed drugs for so long that I don’t know who I am without them, if that makes sense?

Let me explain.

I first started taking the pill – Microgynon – when I was 17. Far from an adult (certainly in mind), not experienced in the world and not really properly mature. I was living at home with my parents, still at school studying A levels, working a Saturday job in a clothes shop. Life was pretty easy.

I was lucky with my pill, it suited me from the off. No spotting or breakthrough bleeding, no bad skin or mood swings, or any noticeable change in me. Or so I thought. But what if the hormones changed the future me? What if they blocked something in me that would have become apparent as I matured, started working, became financially independent? What if the change was subtle enough for me not to notice it, but it did make a difference somehow?

I had to change my pill a while back, because of my age (urgh), so I’m now on the mini pill which I take daily, instead of having a 7 day break (you can read what I found out about hormone based contraception as you get older here). Again there was no discernible difference. But lately I feel tired and not interested in going out. What if I’m blaming that on winter, and getting older, but really it’s the effect of the pill and I just haven’t put two and two together?

Similarly, with my anti-depressants (read my depression story here). I have come off them a couple of times, without my doctor’s supervision (don’t do that, by the way), and at those times I’ve returned to Mrs Angry-with-Everything-and-Everyone but that makes me wonder then, is that the real me? Are the anti-depressants just masking my true aggressive nature? Or did the depression make me that way and the anti Ds just put me back to my normal level headed self?

What if my pill was the trigger for my depression? What if, had I never taken the pill, I’d never have had depression and almost 20 years of being on and off medication for it?

The point is, I’ve been putting hormones and SSRIs into my body for such a long time, and from such a young age, that I don’t know who the real me is. Stripped down, no medication or contraception, me. What would I be like? Would my personality change? Would I hate myself? Would other people hate me?

And in that respect, my thoughts start to run away with me, and at times I wonder if I’m living a lie. Which is crazy!

It’s too late for me to ever find out, obviously. But I know that there are thousands, probably millions of people out there, like me, who’ve followed their doctors advice for many years and now blindly, repetitively, habitually take what they’ve been prescribed “just because”. I’m not saying that doctors have acted irresponsibly. Just that it’s something worth thinking about.

I’m too scared to take myself off my anti-depressants to find out what would happen, but at some point as I get older I won’t need the pill anymore, and it will definitely be something I take note of, to see if there are any changes in reverse that I was too young and naive to notice at 17.

I’d love your thoughts on this! Am I overthinking things? Have you seen big changes from long term medication? Leave me your comments.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Friday Feeling [27] – you’re never (tat)too old

Considering that one of the straplines of this blog is tattoos (that’s what the “tatt” in my blog name means) I haven’t really posted much about them recently.

But I love this story of a pop up tattoo parlour, specifically aimed at over 70s, who are giving older people that real tattoo experience, without the lifelong commitment. Apparently, getting a tattoo is number 7 on the bucket lists of people over 70 so older ladies and gents queued up for the (albeit temporary) tattoo in London at an event launched by rapper Professor Green and his Nan.

Over 70s tattoos

Not so sweet is that it’s all a big marketing ploy by Coca-Cola to promote their Zero Sugar drink, but it’s still pretty cool to see Nans and Grandads pushing their boundaries!

Have a read!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Single and moaning about Valentine’s Day?

I was thinking about this yesterday morning, and then in the afternoon someone shared this on Facebook:

Valentine's Day

And it’s so true! I don’t complain about Mothers Day because I don’t have children (purely through choice!) And I try really hard not to be cynical on Fathers Day too; I’m just happy for other people who’s Dads are still around and I encourage them to make the most of their time together.

If you haven’t got a Valentine, be your own. Spend some quality time, watch your favourite TV show, cook a treat meal or get a takeaway, maybe have a glass of wine. These are all the things the husband and I will be doing for Valentine’s Day anyway, and we’ve been together for almost 13 years! Everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is a crock of commercial shit, unless you’re in a new relationship and hoping your partner will express their love publicly so all your friends know it’s serious, so letting it define your mood and behaviour is a bit daft.

Besides, bitterness is really unattractive, so if you’re hoping to snag yourself an “other half”, moaning about people who have already found theirs is quite off putting.

I think Valentine’s Day should be for everybody. Love isn’t just for couples. It’s for family, friends, your favourite work colleague or even your dog! So, even if you’re single right now, why not show someone close to you that you love them with a card, some flowers or chocolates? I guarantee they’ll appreciate it, and you’ll feel warm and squishy inside too.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Prostate cancer is now the third deadliest cancer in the UK

Last week it was announced that more people in the UK are now dying from prostate cancer than breast cancer.

I find that quite shocking. Not purely because of the numbers, but because there is so little media coverage, advertising and awareness around men’s cancers in comparison to women’s.

Why is that? Perhaps women are more open about health issues, and more likely to discuss them openly (although recent figures around the decline in cervical smear tests may suggest otherwise – read my post about the importance of smear tests here).

Perhaps its because prostate cancer is seen as an old man’s illness, and not something for younger guys to worry about?

Indeed, the latest figures have been explained as resulting from an aging population where men are living longer than previous generations, and so the chances of them developing and dying from prostate cancer are higher than before. Previously, deaths resulting from prostate cancer have been more difficult to quantify, because an older man with prostate cancer may die of other causes (e.g heart attack, old age) before prostate cancer can be attributed as the cause of death.

Well, let me tell you, prostate cancer is not just an old man’s disease. And it doesn’t always have symptoms. My Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer aged 57, during a routine examination for another ailment, with no prior symptoms at all. By the time he was diagnosed it was already stage 4 and inoperable – all the NHS could do was offer life lengthening treatment. He died aged 59.

Today would have been his 7th wedding anniversary to his beautiful wife. They should have had many more anniversaries together, not just the 5 they had. They should have had many more years together; years of travelling, and eating, and enjoying life.

It’s time to stop only raising awareness of the “most popular” cancers, and time to stop an awareness bias mainly to women’s cancers. I’m not talking about funding and I’m not suggesting that women’s cancers don’t need to be highlighted. What I’m saying is that men, and the women in their lives, need to start being more open, talking about prostate cancer and proactively getting checked. Men over 50 are at risk, but aren’t offered a routine test by their doctor. It’s time to take control, ask for the test, and deal with the consequences.

Advanced prostate cancer can be treated with hormones to lower the development of testosterone which contributes to the cancer’s growth. Let me put that another way – its chemical castration. No man wants to hear those words.

Thanks as always for reading. x

Friday feeling [26] – you’re never too old for a flatmate

Meet Alexandra and Florence – the housemates with a 68 year age difference.

95 year old Florence admits to being lonely after her husband passed away and so, when she saw a homesharing initiative in a local newspaper, aiming to tackle loneliness by matching older people looking for companionship with a younger person in need of somewhere to live, she decided to investigate.

What’s in it for the housemates?

It’s a simple transaction based on needs, really. The older person gets to have some company, someone to talk to and some help around the house, while the younger person gets a reduced rate of rent,in return; often meaning they can afford to live in an area or home that would otherwise be out of reach to them; like Alexandra who is originally from Newcastle but needs to study in London.

Florence has had a number of different flatmates over the course of the pat 10 years, and she and Alexandra class themselves as friends.

Listen to them talk about how the arrangement works, in the video below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/embed/p05rps8z/42428782

Not only is this a great practical idea, it also bridges barriers between old and young, and can lead to some unexpected friendships and helps to keep the past alive.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

The importance of cervical screening – have a smear test!

Yesterday I had a smear test. I haven’t had one in ages, but that wasn’t always the case. For a time, in my 20s, I had to have one every year, because I developed pre-cancerous cells.

I don’t remember how the discovery came about (not because I’ve blocked it out or anything, just because it was a long time ago), but I think it was just from a routine smear test (I’ve always been strict with myself about getting them done) where the results came back showing some abnormal cells. I do remember being referred to the hospital for a biopsy and not being overly excited at the thought of having a piece of my cervix taken away for further investigation. Not gonna lie, it wasn’t pleasant. The sight of the needle alone was enough to make my legs go wibbly, it seemed huge! (but when you think about how far inside they have to go, it makes sense) and seeing my post biopsy bleeding cervix on a TV screen wasn’t the best, but the nurses were incredibly kind, and my Mom held my hand throughout (actually, I held hers, very very tightly – yes I was in my 20s and yes I still wanted my Mom). And then I had to wait for the results.

Well, the first paragraph gave the game away as to what the results were; I had pre-cancerous cells. I asked the doctor what would happen if they weren’t treated; how long would it take to develop into cancer. I was told it could be 10-20 years but it would happen. Not that there was any doubt in my head to go ahead with the treatment to remove them. I was just curious.

The treatment (a colposcopy) involved me on a hospital bed with my feet in stirrups while the offending cells were cauterised (basically burnt away). Again it wasn’t overly pleasant, but I was so glad to be in that situation, with a potential problem having been identified early on, than the unthinkable alternative. I had a couple of days off work, couldn’t use tampons for a few weeks and that was pretty much that.

What’s the message here? Smear tests are very worth it. Even if an anomaly is identified, it’s better to catch it at an early stage than have to undergo invasive and life changing treatment further down the line. As I said, I was then called in for a yearly smear test, to make sure none of the cells had been missed during the procedure.

The importance of cervical screening

From what I can gather, the main reason people avoid going for a smear test is either embarrassment, or fear of discomfort. There’s nothing at all to be embarrassed about; these nurses and doctors look at hundreds of female genitalia every single year and they’re looking for physical and medical changes; not judging your pubic hair or anything else. As for the discomfort issue, well yes, it can be uncomfortable, but the worst thing you can do is tense up because that will only worsen the problem. No-one really enjoys having a cold speculum inserted by a stranger, but the procedure exists for your own well being, so that’s that.

My top tips:

  • Wear a skirt – you can just hitch it up around your waist and back down again once the procedure is done. It’s just easier then getting in and out of jeans or trousers and you feel a bit less exposed
  • Get an early morning appointment so you’ll feel clean and fresh after your morning shower. Not possible? Take some wetwipes with you for a quick freshen up before your appointment. Not that there’s anything to be ashamed of, but you’ll probably feel a bit more confident and at ease if you feel fresh (like when you brush your teeth before going to the dentist)
  • Relax. I know that’s easier said than done when a person you don’t know very well is coming at you with an unfamiliar object to shove inside, but it will definitely be less uncomfortable if you can try not to tense up. Follow the nurse’s instruction on positioning, take some deep breaths, and remember that any discomfort is only temporary. If something really hurts, speak out. Medical professionals want you to feel as comfortable as possible.
  • Don’t worry. The chances are that your results will come back completely clear. If you get called back for another test, it may just be because the first sample didn’t contain enough cells or there was a problem at the laboratory. If your results do come back showing issues, deal with it then rather than worrying in advance. Treatment is readily available, very successful and will be offered to you as a priority.

I’ll leave you with a funny story I read in JustSeventeen magazine (anyone remember that?) many many moons ago, about a girl who went for a smear test the day after eating indian curry. The doctor asked if she’d mind if a student doctor came in to observe the procedure, to which she agreed. The doctor stepped out of the room while she was still naked from the waist down, legs akimbo so she let out a cheeky bit of wind which – post curry – was rather stinky and filled the air, and the doctor came back with the student who was a ridiculously handsome young male doctor. You can imagine how mortified she felt!! Always makes me giggle when I go for a smear test!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Helping others in January

Remember when I posted about a reverse advent calendar which I was going to be doing throughout December to donate to a local foodbank?

Yeah, failed on that one. Not that I didn’t have the food items – I went above and beyond the 24 days of Christmas and had a box full of tinned foods, biscuits and dried goods ready to help out a family in need. But time ran away with me and in between work, going away for my birthday and last minute house renovations due to late running builders I missed the bloody deadline to donate my goods.

All is not lost, however, because the nature of the items I had put together means they don’t have a short shelf life, plus less fortunate people need help all year round, not just in December. So I’ll be donating them very shortly, and continuing with my resolution to collect and donate a food parcel every month throughout 2018.

Of course there are other ways to help, and many of them are never more relevant or easy than in January when many people have received nice new stuff for Christmas and are looking to part with older items that may have been replaced.

Helping others

This article from Emerald Street has some great suggestions. Getting rid of old warm coats or bedding? Homeless charities can distribute them to the needy in these cold winter months. Having a clear out of cosmetics? Women’s refuge charities are grateful for items that help women feel like women in the midst of their lives being turned upside down. They may seem like small things to you, but to people with nothing they’ll mean a lot.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier in this post, the need for donations doesn’t end when Christmas, or January, is over. If you can help these organisations throughout the year they’ll be very grateful, as will the people who rely on them. Food banks often have collection points in local supermarkets, and some charities will collect items from your home or work address; so why not ask friends, family and work colleagues to all chip in and put together a big donation between a group of you.

Are you planning on doing any of these things, or other charitable help? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

It’s been a while!

Hey lovely blog peeps! Last day of 2017; say what?! I haven’t posted in a while, been kinda busy at the end of the year, which I know is generally the way in the lead up to Christmas, but this was busy with bells on!

So, what have I been up to?

  • Saw Queen with Adam Lambert which was schamaze
  • Went to Rome for 4 days (also schamaze, expect multiple blog posts and all the photos in the New Year)
  • Turned 40 (holy shitballs!)
  • Made a one storey house into a two storey house (our builders finished work, kinda, by the time we got back from holiday, so we spent 48 hours moving sofas downstairs, beds upstairs, building a dining table and a TV unit, cleaning, drilling, you name it! I was in Ikea on Christmas Eve and up at 4.15am on Christmas Day finishing tree decorating. Again, more to come in a future post.)
  • Had my Mother in Law over for Christmas Day and night (love her)
  • Had my Mom, Step Dad, bruther and sister, dog, and Step Monster over for Boxing Day and the day after (love them all)
  • Lazed around, slept and wore pyjamas ever since. Crashed and burned after all the busy times, culminating in a(nother) night in wearing PJs tonight.

Screenshot_20171231-174730

However your 2017 journey went, I hope that today finds you in a happy and healthy place, surrounded by people who love you. And remember, no pressure. Today, tomorrow, the day after – just another day. A bad time doesn’t mean a bad week or bad year. Be kind to yourself and others, look after your mental health, and try not to judge others.

Much love to you all.

Kelly xx

 

Friday Feeling [24] – gotta love Nans!

This should probably be renamed to Friday Funny, as I dare you not to giggle when you read this story!

Twitter user Alex’s 74 year old Nan bought some lovely new purple Christmas baubles to adorn her tree. Alex, on helping her Nan by decorating her tree, realised that the baubles could be opened, and each one contained a glittery purple g-string!

Friday Feeling Christmas

Bless Alex’s Nan for not realising!

Or, perhaps she did realise, and is looking forward to shaking her purple ass in 2018!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x